In this #ThisIsAVoice podcast episode we share

  • why we don’t do “vocal coach reacts to” videos, and when we might
  • the single most important difference between a singer and a singing teacher (and the simple reason why great singers might not be great teachers)
  • the vowel shaping techniques we use when working with voices
  • when to listen to the speaking voice of a singer and why
  • what happens when we teach two different people the same Belt technique
  • And Jeremy demonstrates exactly what’s being discussed with a line from a “legit” musical theatre piece

Check out the Popup Workshops and Masterclasses we run here
https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk

Book a 1-1 coaching session or teacher mentoring session with Jeremy or Gillyanne here
https://DrGillyanneKayesJeremyFisherInspirationSession.as.me/

Find out more about vowel tuning, physiology of singing, and some of the vocal exercises we use in our This Is A Voice book, available at any good bookstore
https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Voice-exercises-project-harness/dp/1999809025/

Send us your AMAs on https://speakpipe.com/Vocalprocess, it’s quick, easy and direct from your phone, tablet or computer

And check out the new Learning Lounge – 15 years of Vocal Process voice training resources available immediately for less than the price of one singing lesson https://vocal-process-hub.teachable.com/p/the-vocal-technique-learning-lounge

 

 

Announcer
This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher. Hello and welcome to this is a voice podcast series two Episode Three. I’m Jeremy Fisher

Gillyanne Kayes
Gillyanne Kayes,

Jeremy
we’re gonna start straight away with a question that’s been sent in on our AMA thing. speakpipe speakpipe.com. If you want to ask us a question,

Gillyanne Kayes
we love questions. Yeah,

Jeremy
this is Steve Duguid.

Steve Duguid
Hi both. What do you think of the current trend on YouTube, which is vocal coach reacts to where a vocal coach watches and comments on a performance as if their opinion on a well established performer should carry some level of weight. I find myself outraged that I’m consuming this and hundreds of others are too, especially when comments include Ah, she has a great belt. Of course, she has a great belt. She’s the current Regina George in Mean Girls, and you told me that at the beginning of your video. *sigh*. So should a vocal coach actually posting like this? Would you? Will you? How much subjectivity should be included and should you have to justify your opinions in any way?

Jeremy
Now Steve…

Gillyanne Kayes
Oh, my goodness,

Jeremy
say what you mean, Steve, don’t beat about the bush

Gillyanne Kayes
I absolutely love that. Should you would you? Alright, can I start?

Jeremy
Yes.

Gillyanne Kayes
I think one of the reasons why there’s more of these around at the moment is due to lockdown. And I’m going to be Mrs. cynical, Dr. cynical, which is I think people are looking for work. So the question is, why might people do this? Why might people go on YouTube, listen to a cast recording or similar of a very famous person and make a commentary on them. Why might they do that?

Jeremy
Is that a rhetorical question?

Gillyanne Kayes
Mmm!

Jeremy
Okay, answers on a postcard. So while we’re waiting for the answers on a postcard to come in, what are your thoughts?

Gillyanne Kayes
Well, um, we were discussing this earlier, actually. And one thing that you said, Jeremy, and I think it’s important is, this is totally unsolicited. I think what can happen, there’s a sort of subliminal thing that goes on, which is, Oh, right. Well, this teacher knows so much about that star, they must be really fantastic. Maybe they even teach them. But they haven’t asked permission to make this kind of a commentary. So it’s totally subjective.

Jeremy
Yep

Gillyanne Kayes
And of course, we are all entitled to our opinions. But I think it’s, for me, call me old fashioned. I think it’s a way of claiming status. Without, again, having asked permission of the person concerned, and without necessarily being able to inhabit that status. And I really liked what Steve said, Jeremy, when he said, you know, would you be able, should people be able to justify what their comments are? And yeah, I think they should, if they’re going to do it. That’s what I think. And Jeremy, I’ll let you talk more, because I’ve got more thoughts.

Jeremy
Yeah, there’s, there’s some interesting stuff in there. And the permission thing is fascinating. I want to just break that down a bit. Because frankly, nobody needs permission to have an opinion. Everybody has an opinion, we all judge everybody and everything. Human beings judge everything, because that’s built in. So yeah, that’s a fact. Do you have permission to give your opinion on YouTube? Well, you don’t need it, frankly, you just film it. And up it goes, and whatever. I think the interesting thing is the teacher, the teacher-student relationship. And I think, you know, we’re gonna talk about relationships quite a lot in this podcast, because this is an interesting sort of grey area. When you think about a teacher-student relationship, what the student is doing is the student has come to the teacher specifically to find something out. Now that the student always doesn’t always know what that thing is that they’re going to find out, but they know approximately, and the real thing that is important here is that the student asks the teacher, and also usually pays the teacher. So there is an explicit relationship going on.

Gillyanne Kayes
mmm

Jeremy
And therefore this is about you having permission to share your thoughts. It’s not actually necessarily the permission of you know, if you’re watching a performer and you’re judging a performer, that’s one thing. But when you’re talking about sharing your opinion with other people, this is about permission.

Gillyanne Kayes
Absolutely. I wouldn’t dream of making a commentary on anything that any one of my students have done without their explicit permission. And I think what it is, it’s going back to this sort of subliminal thing, that by making a commentary, there’s a sort of, by association, the idea that somehow perhaps as the teacher, you have a link with, or that you can teach at that level. And you know, what, if you’re going to make a commentary on a really famous person, you’d better be good. You’d better be very, very good as a teacher, because you are going to attract interest. And there’s a level at which this is perfectly legal clickbait. And there’s good clickbait, and there’s less good clickbait. I don’t know if we’re even going to allow this out.

Jeremy
You have a very strong opinion on this.

Gillyanne Kayes
I do. I do

Jeremy
I’m not as strong on it.

Gillyanne Kayes
Well, you you are much more of a YouTube watcher than I am. I’m really late to the party. And I’m much better now.

Jeremy
And I’m not as strong as you are, I think the important thing is the relationship issue. And that’s actually how you decide you’re going to deal with that personally. So in answer to Steve’s… part of Steve’s question, would we, and are we going to, I’ve already been asked, and I’m really considering this very carefully. But there is one area that we would do, and we are intending to do, which is vocal coaches react to their own stuff. So as part of the Grand Library that we’re building, which at the moment is is well over 400 videos of our stuff going back 15 years, we part of the plan is to actually watch some of the stuff that we made in 2005 2006,7,8,9,10. Watch it, comment on it, say how we’ve developed say what we still think and what’s now changed. And we feel that we are a. perfectly justified to do that, because it’s our staff. But also because it’s a sort of training and development thing, that when people even when they’ve downloaded I mean, my original Voicebox Video, the very first one was 2005. And people have watched that and the whole Voicebox Videos set. And we have now new thoughts about the way that we would translate what we see on screen, and we want to share that. So yes, we are going to do it, but at the moment only on our own stuff.

Gillyanne Kayes
Now there is a value to reflecting on other people’s performances, because actually, it’s one of the ways that we learn, isn’t it? Certainly what is one of the ways I learned when I was training as a singer, in the old days when we had vinyls. And you know, you would listen and kind of make assessments on on what you hear. We do do it when we’re teaching. And that’s the difference when we’re really teaching.

Jeremy
Well, yeah, but this is this is different, this is a different usage. The point is that when I mean somebody will bring in four or five different artists for a session with me and go I want to sound like her or her or her or her or occasionally him. And my job then is to analyse what that singer is doing, which is where the judgement comes in. But then to show the singer in the room, how to make either those sounds specifically if they’re doing a cover number, cover band, or how to get that particular type of style in their own voice. And that’s very much a teaching tool. And we’re only halfway through the process when we’re listening. We’re listening and judging but then working out how to put those things onto that other person’s voice.

Gillyanne Kayes
Now that’s reverse engineering

Jeremy
Yes

Gillyanne Kayes
and then putting it on to the other person’s voice.

Jeremy
We are all for reverse engineering, it’s incredibly useful. And it also gives you quite often ideas that you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t heard that that particular performance. The difficulty with the YouTube, you know, “vocal coaches comment on”, is that the end product is the YouTube video, the end product is the critique. It doesn’t actually go any further than that. The only way that it might go further is basically if the vocal coach says at the end, come to me and I will teach you to sing like whoever. And that’s a slightly different ending.

Gillyanne Kayes
Do you know what you’ve really nailed why it is that I feel uncomfortable about it?

Jeremy
Yeah. It’s because the end product is different. The end product isn’t a teaching tool. The end product is a look-at-me tool. That’s why, Steve, so it asked your question yes and no. Which is quite often the answer that we give to people’s questions. Yes and No, but there are specific contexts for it.

Gillyanne Kayes
I just wanted to pick up on the reverse engineering thing, because we’ve been talking about you listen to a performance, you reverse engineer it, using your auditory skills and your visual skills, if you can see them. And then you work with the singer in the room to help them find their version of that. We’re not talking here about cloning something that somebody else does. Because I think that’s a big mistake, we lose authenticity. And we might also be trying to make a sound that doesn’t work that well, in our own voice.

Jeremy
I mean, I think this is I know you’re going to go on and say some more. But I think this is really fascinating. The whole business of cloning somebody else’s voice is that they have a particular instrumental setup, their voice is a particular shape, it’s got a particular particular history, it’s got a particular physiology. And in order to make the same sound that they make, you maybe do the same thing, you maybe have to do something different physiologically to get the same outcome. And in a way, this is the fascination about singing or voice training, is that when you’re aiming at something, there are so many different ways… it’s like the input, the what the what you do the belief that you have to get the same outcome, which is the sound that comes out. And I think there’s a lot of pedagogy around at the moment that doesn’t understand that.

Gillyanne Kayes
It’s based on outcome,

Jeremy
It’s based on an outcome, I’ve analysed this outcome, and it does this and therefore you must do what I’ve just said you must do and you will get the outcome, Oh, you don’t get that outcome, well, then you must be doing it wrong. And it’s this idea that, you know, you do one thing and you get this outcome, and then you do a different thing, and you get a completely different outcome. And it isn’t the case with singing, training or vocal training, voice training.

Gillyanne Kayes
I want to go to when we have done analyses in courses

Jeremy
Yes, YES!

Gillyanne Kayes
where we we listened to a particular singer, for instance, on the Mastering Musical Theatre streaming course, which is heading for the Library.

Jeremy
Yes, it’s going to be in the Library.

Gillyanne Kayes
We listen, we were working with people on the difference between more of a contemporary musical theatre style, for example, a Jason Robert Brown song, and something from was it Carousel, or was it Some Enchanted Evening?

Jeremy
It was Some Enchanted Evening

Gillyanne Kayes
It was South Pacific. And one of the things that we like to do to find not only the style features, but what we describe as the signature vocal setting, is that we speak in the manner of the singer, and anyone who’s worked with us knows this is one of our own signature techniques. And it really works very well, because it takes people out of their singing brain, so that they can start to feel what it is that they’re doing differently. Do you want to say that a little bit about that, from your perspective?

Jeremy
Yeah, I mean, it’s something that we we did in quite a lot of detail in Mastering Musical Theatre, and we listened to the two tracks, and then analysed what they were doing, put it into the speaking voice, got the audience to do it in their own speaking voice and then put it back into the singing voice, keeping as much of the speaking voice setup as that as we could. And it sounds odd when you describe it. So I’ll give you a little demo.

Gillyanne Kayes
Yeah. What are you gonna do?

Jeremy
I’ll do the South Pacific thing.

Gillyanne Kayes
Okay.  Some Enchanted Evening?

Jeremy
No, it wasn’t it wasn’t

Gillyanne Kayes
This Nearly Was Mine

Jeremy
This Nearly Was Mine. What are the lyrics to that? Now, now, I’m alone. still dreaming of paradise. Okay, so if I just say, now, now I’m alone, still dreaming of paradise. [sings] Now. Now I’m alone, still dreaming of paradise. That’s pretty much very, very close to my speaking setup, normally. But the speaking… the setup that’s required for something like South Pacific is very lyric it’s called legit musical theatre. It’s it’s actually operatic-ish, classical-ish in style, but with some tweaks. And so the requirement is a slightly different sound and a different setup. So if I go into the sort of sound that I might use in that, then this is my speaking voice. And obviously, in the speaking voice, it’s really quite extreme. But the moment that you see, now, now I’m alone. Still dreaming of paradise. Then you hear how that setup actually works in the speaking voice.

Gillyanne Kayes
What lovely vowels you have, dear,

Jeremy
thank you very much. I’m very flattered.

Gillyanne Kayes
And that was quite an old fashioned recording, we deliberately went to one of the earlier ones, I think

Jeremy
we didn’t actually

Gillyanne Kayes
Well whatever!

Jeremy
This is the point. This is the old fashioned lyric legit musical theatre, and he’s actually quite classic in its setup. So in the same course we did, lyrical musical theatre, we did contemporary conversational, and then we did sort of gospel r&b based. And that was really interesting. noticing the way that people do things differently. The way that the delivery is different. The pronunciation is different. The vowel shapes are different consonant use is different, there’s all sorts of things that are different. Really fascinating course. So yes, we have just widget editing that at the moment to put in the Library, and the Library will, fingers crossed be out fairly soon. So you will be able to get pretty much every resource that we have created since 2005. Great.

Gillyanne Kayes
This is taking me to the way that we work with individual singers, I’m thinking of a course that we did recently, which is the Belting and Power Sounds

Jeremy
yes, online

Gillyanne Kayes
It’s one of our pop ups. And it’s a very practice based course. So as part of the course, we break up into small groups, and we have sample songs that people are going to explore to try and move into more of a power setup with their, with their singing voice. And I had 2, I had a number of, I think they were all women in my group actually, and two women with very different speaking voices. And one of them came from more of a kind of a Greek cultural background, and had quite a deep speaking voice. If you think about if you ever heard women speak in Greek, they’re quite low pitched. And often the tongue is quite back, all the tongue is quite down. This is just a very generalised statement. And the other was, I would say, more estuary in the UK, so anywhere from Kent to Essex, not extreme, but sort of quite, you know, sound kind of quite up there, compared with the other one, which is, I’m trying to think sort of maybe a little bit more like that bit more, a bit more down in the mouth, it’s the way I describe it. And we were working on the same song, we were doing the same technique. But what I found as I worked with these two is that I had to use a different strategy for them. Because I was listening to what I would call the underlying shape, you know, what’s that sort of habitual shape that that vocal tract is in. And sometimes we assign a vowel position to it. So it’s more of an or an or might be helpful. And I knew that what I’d got to do with the girl from the Greek background, was to bring the tongue a little bit more forward into the neutral position, or even to more of an eh position, so that she could be comfortable going into that power sound. Now, when I came to work with the other singer I’m talking about, she said, Oh, I’ll try that. And it wasn’t working. I said, No, I’ve got a different strategy for you. And I was listening to her speaking voice. And I said, You know what, just go go with me, because what I want you to do is more of an a. So we did the a set up. Boom. Up, she went, she’s not made a power sound up there before. And we talked about it afterwards, which was how did I know. And I’ve said, what I’m saying to you right now, which is I’m listening, listening to an underlying shape, I’m listening to underlying habitual shapes and patterns. And I’m working with those. And it’s like Jeremy was saying earlier that every singer, every performer brings a history with them. And that’s going to come from their linguistic background, from their accent from their dialect, maybe from the way people in their sociocultural background speak. And therefore, that informs their muscularity and their shaping and their resonance. And those are the things that I was listening for on that occasion.

Jeremy
I think it’s really interesting when you look at teachers in general, I mean, not just singing teachers, but teachers in general, that sometimes they will have great successes, and sometimes they won’t. And if you’re a really experienced teacher, you understand that the thing that you did with the previous client may or may not work with the client in front of you. And likewise, the thing that you’re doing with the client in front of you may not have worked for the client that has just left the room. And therefore what you do is you develop a whole array of tools, but not just that you actually understand what the tool is for and what the tool does, and what it’s based on and when to use it and when not to use it. And part of that is the diagnosis of what the person in front of you is already doing. And I think this business of here’s my technique, or here’s my set of techniques, you just need to do them. All you’re doing is overlaying your beliefs onto somebody else’s voice. Now I want to go somewhere very specific. What is the difference between a singer and a singing teacher? There is one main difference and that’s whose voice you will When you are a singer, the only voice you’re working with is yours. When you’re a singing teacher, the only voice you’re not working with is yours. So what works for you? And all the instructions that you give yourself? Is nothing to do with the person in front of you?

Gillyanne Kayes
Yes, and the only reason I’m interrupting? You heard me take a breath. Is that sometimes you do need to feel it for yourself? Oh, yeah. And if I’m working with a client, and I’m not quite sure what they’re doing, I might say, Look, let me try that out in my voice. To me, it feels like this. This is the instruction I’m giving myself. Do you want to try that? Does that work for you. So I’m always upfront about it. I think this is where we go back to that tool. Because rather than hearing your student and modelling the singing, which is a great thing to do, as well, so long as it’s done with loving kindness is for you not to ask the teacher to speak in the voice that your client is singing in, because that helps you to realise better what it is that they might be doing. And you can then help them to shift that into a different direction if necessary.

Jeremy
I want to put a caveat in on this one. Because we do this all the time. We use this technique all the time.

Gillyanne Kayes
It’s one of our signature things. And can I just say, we teach all of our Accredited trainers to do this.

Jeremy
The caveat is you hear somebody singing, speaking and you try it on on your own voice on your own instrument, you take it in you try it, you play with it, you come out with what you think is a matching sound. The caveat is, what you just did is not necessarily what the person in front of you is going to have to do. So that you’re still running that through the filter of “is this going to work for the person in front of me, where are they coming from”. One of the things that I like doing is to take it one stage further, which is to speak in or to mentally even because I can do it mentally now, speak in the voice that the person is using already, and then speak in the voice that they want to go to and work out what the differences are and what I did. And you sort of break down you reverse engineer what it is that you’ve just done. And then you work out whether those moves that you’ve just done are appropriate, you know the ballpark area, but you may not have exactly the right instructions. So that’s when you experiment, you ask questions, you try out

Gillyanne Kayes
Investigate

Jeremy
You investigate.

Gillyanne Kayes
And there’s an interim step, I’m giving away all of our trade secrets here. The interim step is, if you think you’ve found in your speaking voice, the setting that you’re hearing from the singer, just chant it on one note. So that as you begin to move into sustaining, obviously, you’re doing something that’s more like singing. And then obviously, you need to play around with target phrases.

Jeremy
This is also this is very much sound based.

Gillyanne Kayes
That’ll be £500 pounds, please

Jeremy
At least. Each. Thank you for that for 10 minutes, good. Let’s get our prices right. This is also very much sound based in that this is the timbre that this person is is doing. But the thing is that the moment you then put it into a song, you have a whole load of other stuff as well, which is phrasing and breathing and volume control and vowel shaping, word shaping, consonant use, riffing. I mean, there’s all sorts of other things that goes on.

Gillyanne Kayes
Emotional intention, storytelling

Jeremy
Emotional intention, and storytelling. So what you’re doing by… this is only part of what we do. Just in case people go Oh, well, that’s the trick. And thank you. We’ve been taught by Vocal Process. Hmm, yeah? That was the other thing is that one of the things that we have done for the last 20 something years, 24 years, I think, we did our first course together work that we promoted and taught

Gillyanne Kayes
1997

Jeremy
1997. Everything that we’ve done since then has been sharing, we have shared, we’ve done everything that we can to share this information. And so if you want to you can read about it in the books, you can go and get the app, you know, you can get the the hands off courses, we’ve got downloadable online courses that don’t… you don’t get the experience of us.

Gillyanne Kayes
Well. That’s why in the Library, there’s going to be about 400 products, excluding the books because there are about 10 books and a couple of chapters. Isn’t there, something like that

Jeremy
Yeah, unfortunately, we can’t put the books in to the library. Sorry about that. Because we don’t always own the copyright to them. They’re often you assign your copyright to a publisher for 99 years, and we got a few years to go yet. But the interesting thing is, it’s not until you experience what we’re doing when we’re in the room and you get a whole load more. It’s not even information from us because we share what we know. But it’s the whole business of the way that we do stuff or when we have answer your questions is the way that you answer the questions. And it’s the wordology that you use. And it’s the thought processes. And that’s what you really get when you work with us live.

Gillyanne Kayes
I think this is taking us to the idea of the relationship because we started off talking about, you know, the whole YouTube thing and and the implication that you might have relationship with the person who’s whom you’re critiquing.

Jeremy
Yes.

Gillyanne Kayes
And Jeremy’s just been talking about the relationship between the trainer and the people in in the room. Yeah, people in the Zoom Room, for instance, as most of us are at the moment. And how, really that I mean, it’s it’s interactive, it’s a collaboration thing, isn’t it, we talk about having a teacher tribe. And we talk about curated peer learning. So we are all learning from each other. And I do think singing teachers really need these conversations, I’m very passionate about that, that we share and pool our knowledge in, even in these trainings. And one of the things that we aim to do is to make a safe space for that to happen. And the feedback that we get says that we are successful.

Jeremy
I think it’s useful to know that we always have the chat room, open the chat box, so that people can ask a question any time and and i’m, i’m wondering, I mean, I have to tell you, I think this is one of the massive pluses about having a Zoom Room, rather than teaching live in the room. Because if somebody has a question, and they want to ask it, you have to interrupt the person who’s teaching or presenting. And they have to then stop what they’re doing and talk about the question and then get back on track again. The great thing about having the chat box is that people can drop questions into the chat box at any point, and we’re keeping an eye on it. And then we will morph what it is that we’re doing to answer some of the questions that come up. And that makes it a really live experience. And it also every time we teach a course, it’s different for precisely that reason, because you’ve got people in the room. And I mean, the performers who are listening will know this, every time you perform something, it’s different. It’s the same song, it’s the same lineup, it’s the same, you know, time of day, whatever it is, but every time you do it, it’s different. And part of that, and a very big part of it is the energy of the people in the room because they contribute to your performance. And we feel the same, which is the energy of the people in the room, contribute to the course. So, you know, somebody can ask a question that we haven’t necessarily answered before, but we know it. And just the act of asking the question will draw that information out of your brain in a particular way to answer something that has never been worded quite like that before. And you go, yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Gillyanne Kayes
I’ve not thought of it that way

Jeremy
I’ve not thought of in that way before. That happens a lot.

Gillyanne Kayes
I have to say that’s why we only do two hour training sessions. Although

Jeremy
They’re tiring!

Gillyanne Kayes
We’ve got two and a half hours coming up for the M1 and M2 haven’t we?

Jeremy
We have

Gillyanne Kayes
Because we’re having people who haven’t worked with us before, there’s a little bit of ground to lay. And I think we might be doing that with the next Belting & Power Sounds

Jeremy
That’s not til May

Gillyanne Kayes
Isn’t it?

Jeremy
Yeah. May 9th

Gillyanne Kayes
Okay, right.

Jeremy
If you want to find out anything about these, these course and Popups and the online master classes and workshops that we do www.   no,  www.store.vocalprocess.co.uk. I think it’s slash courses and retreats. [https://www.store.vocalprocess.co.uk/Singingcoursesandretreats]. But if you just go on to store.vocalprocess.co.uk you’ll find it.

Gillyanne Kayes
It will be in the show notes.

Jeremy
It will be in the show notes. We’ll put the link in the show notes.

Gillyanne Kayes
Just what have we sort of done, have we aired?

Jeremy
Steve, we answered your question? 29 minutes, is that alright?

Gillyanne Kayes
Yes, have we answered your questions? That’s pretty good going. Thanks for that question actually, I’m sure that you’re not the only person asking it.

Jeremy
Yeah.You’ve taken a breath, and you’ve stopped…

Gillyanne Kayes
I’ve taken a breath

Jeremy
And I’m wondering where you’re going next.

Gillyanne Kayes
Actually, I’m just wondering if this is…

Jeremy
Are we done?

Gillyanne Kayes
if this is done if this is a short one.

Jeremy
Are we done? We’re probably done

Gillyanne Kayes
I think we are, we got fair amount of mileage out of that question.

Jeremy
Yeah. If you want to ask us a question. You want us to spend 29 minutes on

Gillyanne Kayes
Oh, I tell you what,

Jeremy
Hang on, Speakpipe.com/vocalprocess

Gillyanne Kayes
I’ve got homework for them

Jeremy
Ooh, homework, okay. Now are you sitting comfortably?

Gillyanne Kayes
Yeah. Listen to two different singers, and practice speaking in the voice that you think you’re hearing.

Jeremy
Yeah. Love that. So enjoy that one, and we’ll see you next time.

Gillyanne Kayes
Bye bye.

Announcer
This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.